Third-Person Person

Dr. Lutz: May I ask you something? Why do you insist on referring to yourself in the third person? It is intensely irritating!
Hercule Poirot: Because, Dr. Lutz, it helps Poirot achieve a healthy distance from his genius.
Poirot, "The Labours of Hercules"

A Third-Person Person is a character who always refers to himself or herself in the third person.

In Japanese media, this is a standard tic of very young children. As a result, girls who are childish or cutesy may be seen referring to themselves in this manner. In older characters, however, it may be a sign of psychological issues, such as a very traumatic event in their past. It also may be a sign of humility, so samurai and noblewomen usually refer to themselves in the third person when talking to their lords. If a character transitions into a Third-Person Person over the course of the series, watch out for signs of Yandere, and keep tabs on all pointy objects. (hidden linguistic note) 

On the other hand, Western characters who referred to themselves in the third person were traditionally seen as vain, unintelligent, egotistical, or self-absorbed — the implication being that he is so in awe of himself that even he views himself objectively. Or the character is a Hulk Speaking primitive. Or the character could be just a Cloudcuckoolander with a weird speech mannerism. An egotistical villain will especially refer to himself in this fashion if he has a cool or impressive-sounding name or title. Sometimes a character with Acquired Situational Narcissism will temporarily become a Third-Person Person as a sign of his suddenly expanded ego. There are examples of this trope used in the Japanese way, though, such as Elmo from Sesame Street.

At the same time, many vain and self-centered people are very fond of using the pronoun "I"; in this context, the third person self-referral can be seen as exactly the opposite: a sign of self-irony and not taking oneself too seriously. In Eastern religions, like Hinduism or Buddhism, it may be a sign of enlightenment. Some, like Ma Yog Laxmi and Swami Ramdas, referred to themselves in this way in order to detach their true selves from temporary ones (Jnana Yoga actually encourages its practitioners to do this).

The technical term for this is "illeism", from the Latin word for "that" (sometimes also used like "he") with "-ism" attached. If the speaker does this for only for a story in which they are revealed as the central character, it's ...And That Little Girl Was Me or Narrator All Along.

See also Hulk Speak and Verbal Tic. Almost as bad as people who insist their name has a "The" in there somewhere. Pokémon Speak is when a character says their name over and over because it's literally the only thing they can say.

Example subpages:

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • A commercial for Progressive auto insurance has a guy who comes into "the Progressive store" to talk with Flo about auto insurance refers to himself in this manner, confusing her at first. Then another associate shows up and he gets confused as well, leading Flo to be all "Here we go again."

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes has a short arc where Calvin demands that he be called "Calvin the Bold", going on to say that "Calvin the Bold will begin referring to himself in the third person." Then his dad knighted him with the name Mud, and the whole charade disappeared very quickly.
  • Lucy van Pelt did this when she was very young, in early Peanuts strips.
  • Terry and the Pirates has several of these: Dragon Lady, Sanjak, Rouge, Klang...

    Fan Works 

    Pro Wrestling  
  • The Rock says... he is going to lay the smackdown on the jabronis who neglected to mention him here!
  • Not as common, but Mr. Kennedy (...KENNEDY!) still makes it a big deal in his pre-match promo.
  • It's not uncommon for wrestlers to use their title nicknames to refer to themselves. Triple H has been quite guilty of this lately (King of Kings going back on his throne, you know the deal)... and that's the bottom line, 'cause Stone Cold said so!
  • Subverted in EVOLVE, where Sami Callihan seemed to be referring to himself in third person but was revealed to be in conversation with himself.
  • Kimberly has been a third person person since ending her SHINE losing streak.

    Puppet Shows 
  • This is a permanent feature of the puppet for Alain Delon (see Real Life below) in Les Guignols de l'info.
  • Elmo of Sesame Street does this; it's part of the reason he's so adorable. Not so much ego as he hasn't learned pronouns yet.
    • The Mexican version, Plaza Sesamo, has Lola doing it as well, since she's the show's Elmo equivalent.

    Radio 
  • Mitch Benn spends part of one episode of Mitch Benn's Crimes Against Music in the third-person for tax purposes.
  • Most of the cast of The Navy Lark would slip in and out of whenever it was funny, but C.P.O. Pertwee and Fatso Johnson would do it more than most.
  • Denis King of Hello Cheeky would do this whenever he had just told a terrible, terrible joke. Usually the statement would go along the lines of "How does he think of them?" or "He's working well tonight!"

    Web Original 

    Tropes 

Alternative Title(s):

Illeism